Freezing temperatures are an annual event for gardeners living in Central Florida. The area encompasses USDA hardiness zones 8B, 9A and 9B, where temperatures dip to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Gardeners in Central Florida should be aware most tropical plants will not acclimate to freezing temperatures and will die. Subtropical and temperate plants can acclimate to freezing temperatures and are best suited for ground plantings in this area of the state.
Bring container-grown tropical and subtropical plants inside if the containers are movable. If not, bunch the containers together so the plants will retain heat. Water the containers well and spray the plant's foliage before the freeze. Place a heavy layer of mulch into each container to help the soil retain warmth.
Plant tender plants near a wall, fence or by some type of barrier that will help the area retain heat during a freeze. Planting tender plants under the canopy of large trees will help plants retain heat, as the cold air will rise to the tree's canopy.
Plant tender plants in high areas of your landscape and not in low areas, as the cold air will gather there.
Mulch around the base of in-ground plants with a heavy layer of pine bark, pine needles, dead leaves or cypress mulch, as this will help the soil retain heat, protecting the plant's roots.
Water the plants remaining in the ground well before the first freeze to maintain the soil's heat and protect the root system. Spray the foliage to help it retain its heat.
Cover the plants with outdoor lights, such as holiday lights, to keep the area and the foliage warm during the freeze. String the lights over the entire plant from top to bottom.
Cover the plants with sheets or quilts, being sure to cover the entire plant from top to bottom. If covering with black plastic, be sure to remove the coverings or open them up for ventilation when the sun rises.
Place an outdoor light underneath the covering during the freeze to keep the plant warm.